ACSR Recommends a Letter To CBS on Fairness Inquiry
The Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility urged the Corporation Tuesday to send a letter to the Columbia Broadcasting System, asking that the network review its procedures to insure compliance with the government's fairness doctrine.
In a statement issued yesterday, the ACSR said it has recommended that the University vote its 33.26 shares against a shareholder resolution calling for CBS to set up a committee to investigate bias in news reporting, and instead send the letter.
The ACSR also urged votes against nine other shareholder proposals submitted to CBS and five other companies, and abstention on five others.
Donald F. Turner, ACSR chairman and professor of Law, said yesterday that the committee voted to recommend the letter be sent to CBS because "some people on the ACSR wanted to say something indicating that they were in favor of fair reporting of the news; to say nothing would imply that we were not concerned about this issue."
"There was, if not skepticism, a kind of uneasiness about anything that would generate pressures to downplay controversial news on the networks." Turner added.
The CBS resolution was proposed by Accuracy in Media, Inc., a group that publicized incidents of alleged bias or inaccuracy in East coast news media.
The ACSR also voted to abstain on resolutions presented to the stockholders of CBS and of the international Business Machine Corp, that called for the company to adopt cumulative voting for the election of directors.
Cumulative voting allows a stockholder votes equal to all of the shares he owns times the number of directors to be elected, and permits them to be cast for one or more of the candidates. The procedure is believed to encourage greater minority representation on corporate boards.
Turner said the ACSR "has just been ducking that issue" because it does not feel it has sufficient information to make a judgment, but what the release called "a significant minority" voted to have the committee recommend a favorable response to the proposals.
The committee also recommended abstentions on three resolutions on the Phillips Petroleum Corp. pertaining to political contributions.
The group recommended that the Corporation take "a wait and see" attitude because of what it called the company's "poor past record" in this area. Phillips was one of the corporation indicated for making illegal campaign contributions to the 1972 Nixon presidential campaign.
Turner also said yesterday that the ACSR will have a special meeting Tuesday to consider non-proxy issues relating to disclosure of environmental performance and minority employment. The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked the University to comment on a rulemaking procedure about these issues.